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North Dakota State's Carson Wentz has all the tools, great upside for the Rams

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  • North Dakota State's Carson Wentz has all the tools, great upside for the Rams

    North Dakota State's Carson Wentz has all the tools, great upside for the Rams

    April 16, 2016
    Updated April 17, 2016 10:40 a.m.


    North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz has a great arm, ideal physical skills and a locker-room presence, experts say.BRUCE CRUMMY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


    By RYAN KARTJE / STAFF WRITER

    As any conversation about this 6-foot-5, 235-pound North Dakotan with a howitzer arm, barrel frame and the undeniable look of a franchise quarterback seems to begin these days, let us first address the Bison in the room.

    Carson Wentz spent the past five years playing college football in Fargo, N.D. After starting just one season at Bismarck Century High, a late growth spurt left his recruiting profile so low that the popular online scouting services didn’t bother to make a page for him. At North Dakota State, an FCS powerhouse, Wentz didn’t start until his redshirt junior season, and he threw just 612 passes over his entire career – only 28 of which came against FBS opponent. All of these things are true.

    Of course, there’s the 28-3 record and the two FCS championships in two seasons and the glowing off-the-field profile there for your consideration. But there’s no avoiding the reality of the situation. Not since 1974 has an NFL team used the top pick on a player below college football’s highest level.

    As the Rams wonder whether Wentz or Cal’s Jared Goff would be best to carry a rebranded franchise on their shoulders, this lack of experience against top competition is the specter that hangs over the draft’s most intriguing quarterback prospect.

    “I know a lot of people have that question,” Wentz said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “I know what I’m capable of.”

    Before deciding for yourself, consider one of those 28 throws against an FBS defense. It’s 2014, Wentz’s first start, and the Bison have just crossed midfield on the road against Iowa State. Wentz drops back from under center, fakes a handoff and steps up into a clean pocket. There are some questions about his pocket presence, but at this moment, he is cool in the face of chaos. On a late read, he launches a bomb 40 yards in the air to wideout Zach Vraa, tucking it cleanly between a charging help safety and a cornerback in man coverage.

    The throw is a dazzling reminder of why Wentz has risen this far, from small-school nobody to lofty Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger comparisons. “He’s got some seriously great arm talent,” said Randy Hedberg, North Dakota State’s quarterbacks coach.

    No scout will dispute that. Wentz has a cannon. Next year, his arm might immediately rank among the league’s dozen best.

    His tools, from the mammoth frame to his 10-inch hands to the 4.77 40 time, suggest that a potential great quarterback can be molded from the clay. Mike Mayock of NFL Network suggested recently he could have the upside of Tom Brady or Andrew Luck. ESPN’s Jon Gruden sees him as “the most NFL-ready quarterback in years.” But for Hedberg, who has watched him develop up close, the bullish predictions go beyond Wentz’s physical tools.

    At North Dakota State, Wentz called his own protections. He changed plays and used hot routes at the line of scrimmage. While Goff’s offense at Cal operated mostly out of shotgun with three- and four-wide sets, North Dakota State’s pro-style setup should mean an easier transition to the NFL for Wentz. His offense was built around a workhorse running back and play-action sets – which Wentz excelled passing and running out of – so he could prove an ideal fit for the Rams’ offensive philosophy, too.

    “You watch him at North Dakota State, and you see pro-style reads, left-to-right, high-to-low progressions,” CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler said. “You see him taking 50-50 snaps under center and in shotgun. You see everything you want to see.”

    Hedberg takes it a step further.

    “Everybody sees his workouts and how he throws the ball,” Hedberg said, “but when you sit in with him on a meeting, he’s really going to blow you away.”

    The coach points to one play, his favorite from two years with Wentz.

    It’s the national semifinals in 2014, and North Dakota State is trailing with one minute remaining. Wentz catches the snap out of the shotgun, fakes a handoff, stands firm in the pocket for a beat and then uncorks a soaring spiral to the far corner of the end zone, where it falls softly into a freshman wideout’s outstretched arms. The placement is stunning.

    “His poise under pressure was unbelievable,” Hedberg said. “The throw was the only possible place he could throw it. It was perfect. That’s one play I’ll never forget.”

    This isn’t to say that Wentz is the perfect prospect, per se. His pocket presence is still a work in progress. His footwork will need to be cleaned up. Goff may be more accurate and ready to step in from Day 1, and plenty will question whether either is worth the king’s ransom that the Rams gave up for the No. 1 pick.

    “When you’re pick No. 1, philosophically, you’re not picking for what Coach Fisher pencils in on opening day,” Rams GM Les Snead said on Thursday. “It’s really what he pencils in for the next decade.”

    And that, precisely, is the principle that could lead the Rams to risk it all on the small-school, North Dakotan with the huge arm and a better-than-you-might-think chance at being the NFL’s next great gunslinger. With all their chips on the table, there’s no better gamble.

  • #2
    ESPN’s Jon Gruden sees him as “the most NFL-ready quarterback in years.”
    This is interesting.

    Comment


    • #3
      My two cents is that now that the Rams have given up a ton to take a swing for the fences on a franchise qb, i would strongly advocate taking the guy with the most upside in wentz. Getting a good but not great qb is not a valid reason to trade this many picks from my perspective. If you are going to mortgage your future, it should be for star potential and that sounds like wentz to me.

      ramming speed to all

      general counsel

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
        This is interesting.
        Gruden also said Cook is perhaps the best QB in this class. So I don't know what to make of Gruden this year.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nick View Post
          Gruden also said Cook is perhaps the best QB in this class. So I don't know what to make of Gruden this year.
          Good point. Didn't Gruden describe Austin Davis as a young Drew Brees?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post

            Good point. Didn't Gruden describe Austin Davis as a young Drew Brees?
            In an offense with something that resembles an NFL OL A. Davis would have been better then average QB. I seen Davis more as a sane version of B. Farve if he became an elite QB. But even if the Rams had D. Brees in 2015 the result might have been at best two more wins

            Why would anyone take GRUDEN serious on any level? He took over a team mostly crafted by T. Dungy to a Super Bowl and couldn't get back to even a sniff of another Super Bowl. M. Martz (OC then HC) saw 2 Super Bowls. There after being shown the door GRUDEN hasn't stepped on the sideline of another team as a coach-- he is what is known as a talker not a doer...at least with T. Dilfer he can recognize the skill in other QBs he never had in the NFL to be somewhat creditable

            Comment


            • #7
              I like this kid a lot. He probably can eventually become a Blake Bortles / Joe Flacco / Matt Ryan type of QB. Don't know that I'd give up all we did for a Bortles/Flacco/Ryan, but it's certainly better than what we have now. But I'd be lying if I said his level of competition doesn't bother me. Yea, he led his team to the "tallest dwarf in the room" trophy, but the NFL is a different bird all together. I hope he can pick it up.
              The more things change, the more they stay the same.

              Comment


              • #8
                He doesn't make the schedule. FWIW, he beat (FBS) Iowa State in 2014. In fact, NDSU has humiliated the last 5 FBS teams they have played (all in their own stadiums), so they struggled/failed to find someone willing to give them a shot in 2015. The whole 'level of competition' thing holds very little water anymore. The better FCS programs are beating and playing very close games with FBS schools (even some of the 'big boys') every year.
                "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fargo Ram Fan View Post
                  He doesn't make the schedule. FWIW, he beat (FBS) Iowa State in 2014. In fact, NDSU has humiliated the last 5 FBS teams they have played (all in their own stadiums), so they struggled/failed to find someone willing to give them a shot in 2015. The whole 'level of competition' thing holds very little water anymore. The better FCS programs are beating and playing very close games with FBS schools (even some of the 'big boys') every year.
                  Come on, Fargo. I mean, I like the kid, and I hope he's the pick. But yes, the level of competition has to be considered. Every week of Wentz' college career looks like the opening week competition of the D-1 QB prospects. Goff had 1 or 2 weeks per year against "gimme" defenses. Wentz saw that every week.

                  Don't get me wrong. As I said, I want the pick to be Wentz. But yes, his jump in level of competition will be significant; more significant than every other QB prospect. I hope he can make it.

                  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HUbison View Post
                    I like this kid a lot. He probably can eventually become a Blake Bortles / Joe Flacco / Matt Ryan type of QB. Don't know that I'd give up all we did for a Bortles/Flacco/Ryan, but it's certainly better than what we have now. But I'd be lying if I said his level of competition doesn't bother me. Yea, he led his team to the "tallest dwarf in the room" trophy, but the NFL is a different bird all together. I hope he can pick it up.
                    To be fair, we recently had a QB that didn't even make it to the '"tallest dwarf in the room" trophy', but almost all he did was WIN as a starting QB. IMO, we haven't found a replacement for the DIV 1AA QB since he was cast to the curb. Maybe Wentz can be that guy? I certainly hope so, as we gave up too much if he (or Goff) doesn't pan out.


                    gap

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gap View Post

                      To be fair, we recently had a QB that didn't even make it to the '"tallest dwarf in the room" trophy', but almost all he did was WIN as a starting QB. IMO, we haven't found a replacement for the DIV 1AA QB since he was cast to the curb. Maybe Wentz can be that guy? I certainly hope so, as we gave up too much if he (or Goff) doesn't pan out.


                      gap
                      And for every Kurt Warner, there's 10,000 who aren't. I'm pulling for the kid, but playing against the lower tier defenses his whole career is a nagging question. Hope he has the right answer.

                      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HUbison View Post
                        And for every Kurt Warner, there's 10,000 who aren't. I'm pulling for the kid, but playing against the lower tier defenses his whole career is a nagging question. Hope he has the right answer.
                        I'm with you one this one, I just had to put that out there in case it happens. That way I can say I called it just like I called KW being a great QB in 1997.

                        But I am completely on board with the RAMS way over paying for the quality of the QBs available. I am also the only one on the LA drinks too much everclear tainted kool aide. If these same FO moves were pulled last year, or this year with the RAMS deciding to stay in STL forever, everyone on this board would be saying what you are saying.


                        gap

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gap View Post
                          That way I can say I called it just like I called KW being a great QB in 1997.
                          You "called" KW when he was in the Arena League?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post

                            You "called" KW when he was in the Arena League?
                            No, I called Warner when the RAMS signed him around Christmas (after the season ended) 1997. Jim Thomas' article referred to him as Curt Warner, and all I could find was the Seattle running back. I then dug a little deeper and found that it was Kurt Warner. I then read as much as I could about his short starting college career and the Barn Stormers. Everyone on the RAMPAGERS (listserv) said I was crazy, and that he wouldn't be more than a camp arm, if he got past NFL-E.


                            gap

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ram Dragoon View Post
                              ...
                              ...

                              Why would anyone take GRUDEN serious on any level? He took over a team mostly crafted by T. Dungy to a Super Bowl and couldn't get back to even a sniff of another Super Bowl. M. Martz (OC then HC) saw 2 Super Bowls. There after being shown the door GRUDEN hasn't stepped on the sideline of another team as a coach-- he is what is known as a talker not a doer...at least with T. Dilfer he can recognize the skill in other QBs he never had in the NFL to be somewhat creditable

                              To be fair, before taking over for the Bucs and getting that SB ring, he led a Raiders team to 3 straight playoff seasons, losing to the eventual SB winning Ravens in the AFC championship in one.

                              Not that I'm defending him as a stellar coach. But he did more than catch Tony Dungy's coattail for a season. I'd probably place him merely as a middle tier coach.




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